Michael Jordan’s Tequila Brand Sued for Copyright Infringement, Vox Media faces Infringement Lawsuit by Photographer, HBO Discontinues Free Streaming of Shows, Netflix’s Subscriptions Surge Due to COVID-19 and Apple Music Now Streaming on Samsung’s Smart TV.
Michael Jordan’s Tequila Brand Sued for Copyright Infringement
Cincoro, a tequila company started by Michael Jordan, the famous basketball player, and four other NBA (National Basketball Association) owners, is being sued by photographer, Anaïs Ganouna. The infringement lawsuit has been filed against Cincoro, by Ms. Ganouna, in the United States District Court for the Central District of California. Ms. Ganouna claims that her company, Frank & Anaïs, was hired by a production company called The Colors You Like (TCYL) and Cincoro, to do a photoshoot for the launch of Cincoro. Prior to this photoshoot, Ms. Ganouna did not negotiate any of the licensing or usage terms for her photographs. This is because she was informed by Cincoro’s representatives that, they had hired another photographer earlier, who’s work they did not like and that they would pay Ms. Ganouna only if they were using her work. Eventually, Cincoro’s representatives informed Ms. Ganouna that they would not be using her photographs and will be using another photographer for the reshoot.
However, Ms. Ganouna found her photographs on Cincoro’s website, social media accounts, and digital advertising, and also came across third-party vendors and distributors promoting Cincoro’s tequila over the internet with what appeared to be her images. Ms. Ganouna took screenshots of her photographs being allegedly used online without acquiring the licenses and permission and attached them as evidence in the subsequent lawsuit that she filed. The lawsuit alleges copyright infringement, fraud, civil conspiracy (to commit fraud), and unfair competition for which Ms. Ganouna is seeking compensatory damages, punitive damages, and injunctive relief, among other remedies.
Vox Media faces Infringement Lawsuit by Photographer
A photographer named Helayne Seidman, has filed a copyright infringement law suit against Vox Media, in the Southern District of New York. The lawsuit which has been filed under the Copyright Act and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, accuses Vox Media of unauthorized reproduction and public display of a copyrighted photograph. As per the claims made in the lawsuit, Vox Media has allegedly infringed upon a photograph of an apartment building taken by Seidman. The photograph is that of a luxury apartment building, Gotham West, on 45th Street in New York, and is a copyrighted photograph which has been registered to and is owned by Seidman. This photograph was licensed by Seidman to the New York Post, who had then published it in an article and had also credited Seidman for the photograph. Following this, Seidman then discovered her photograph on www.NY.Curbed.com., which is a site owned and operated by Vox Media.
Seidman is of the opinion that Vox Media obtained the photograph from the New York Post article without taking the necessary permission or giving her credit for the photograph. Further, Seidman has accused Vox Media of removing, falsifying, and altering the copyright management information, due to which she claims that Vox Media has violated copyright law. Seidman now seeks declaratory judgment of Vox Media’s infringement, an award for damages, an award for costs and fees, pre- and post-judgment interest, and other relief as determined by the court.
HBO Discontinues Free Streaming of Shows
HBO, the American premium television network had previously released certain shows and movies on its various online streaming platforms, which could be viewed for free. This was done mainly, due to the COVID-19 lockdowns that have kept Americans housebound. As a result of this HBO, decided to provide additional free content to its users, which included 90 episodes in all: The Sopranos, The Wire, Veep, Succession, Silicon Valley, the two seasons of Big Little Lies. The shows were made available for free from April 3rd onwards, until April 30th. After April 30th, the free shows will return behind the paywall and will require the subscription fee to be viewed.
HBO’s decision to drop the paywalls and offer free content, was done as a gesture to provide some entertainment relief for those doing their part to keep everyone safe and healthy in this time of social isolation. The television network hoped that after the free users have seen the variety of shows it offers, they are likely to see a hike in the number of paying subscribers. WarnerMedia’s HBO, is now preparing for the launch of HBO Max, another streaming platform with content lasting for 10,000 hours.
Netflix’s Subscriptions Surge Due to COVID-19
The lockdown, which began sometime in March, due to the spread of COVID-19, is still in force and has resulted in more people subscribing to online streaming services. Among the streaming services, Netflix is the most popular one and has recently seen a marked increase in the number of subscribers, which has now reached 15.8 million. This is more than double the number of expected subscribers, however, Netflix is also weary of these numbers, because it is aware that this sudden surge in the number of subscribers has begun only after the lockdown was ordered. This is mainly because people are restricted to their homes and require more content for their entertainment. The streaming platform has acknowledged that it expects a drop in the number of subscribers when the lockdown is eventually lifted and people get out of their homes.
Netflix presently has a large pipeline of content which is ready to be released during the months of May, June and July, even though the production for a number of its shows has been stalled. Another advantage that Netflix has over other streaming platforms is that, it always releases the entire season of a show, instead of individual episodes per week. This allows the users to consume a greater amount of content and may also help Netflix retain a large number of its current subscribers.
Apple Music Now Streaming on Samsung’s Smart TV
In an attempt to expand its user base, Apple has recently tied up with Samsung, to make Apple music available on Samsung’s Smart TV. However, Apple music will be compatible with only those Samsung Smart TV’s that were manufactured between 2018-2020. Apple music subscribers, who also own Samsung’s Smart TV’s, can access and stream millions of songs and music videos, explore thousands of curated playlists, and will also allow them to host virtual dance parties with family and friends.
This is Samsung’s recent initiative to increase the entertainment and wellness options on its Smart TV platform. This seems to be the best time to do it since people are currently confined to their homes following the lockdown orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic and will be looking for multiple entertainment options.
Authored and compiled by Neharika Vhatkar (Associate, BananaIP Counsels)
The Licensing and E-Commerce News Bulletin is brought to you jointly by the E-Commerce Law and Consulting/Strategy Divisions of BananaIP Counsels, a Top IP Firm in India. If you have any questions, or need any clarifications, please write to [email protected] with the subject: Licensing News.
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